Let's set the scene. It's the early 2010s, and you're browsing on the internet. You come across this cute new J-fashion, called mori girl. Excited, you start to dive into the new street snaps and magazines that have recently been shared, and you decide you want to buy your own mori clothing. So you visit the websites of the many prominent mori brands to snag your first piece.
For those of you who discovered mori in its early days, this probably brought back a wave of nostalgia for you. But for new mori folk, such a scenario would seem impossible. I can't count the number of times people have asked me where to buy mori clothing pieces, and I've had to sadly tell them I just don't know. Now that mori's heyday has passed, most mori brands have either shut down or moved on to new styles. But, I can remember a day when mori was a part of pop culture, and brands were fairly easy to find.
Although most of these brands are gone, their impact on shaping the fashion style is very important. So, today, I want to take a walk down memory lane with you and introduce you to some of the OG mori brands.
No list of mori brands would be complete without the most recognizable and largest mori brand ever, Wonder Rocket.
Opened in 2007, during its run Wonder Rocket was well-loved by mori folk in Japan and abroad. Located in Harajuku, it was the most popular in-person mori shop. Its bunny-head mannequins were incredibly iconic and easily recognizable. Similar to Lolita shops, shop staff actually wore mori fashion, and their outfits were often shared online and circulated throughout the community as style inspiration.
Sadly, the shop has long since closed its doors and very little remains of the brand. However, the staff's official blog is still active as of 2021 and can be browsed.
Wonder Rocket Store Front in Harajuku
As for their style and its impact, Wonder Rocket sold primarily heavily layered clothing during the height of its mori days. It focused a lot on neutral colors and pastels, as well as leaning heavily into floral patterns. The brand also used a lot of lace. In part, this style helped to create the seemingly "classic" mori look we think of today, leaning away from the more simplistic styles of magazines.
Wonder Rocket closed its doors in 2017, marking mori's official exit from Harajuku street fashion. But its impact on the fashion is still major, even to this day.
Another popular brand name in the early mori community was Syrup, also known as Felissimo. The brand is still active to this day, although the mori influence on their clothing has long since disappeared.
During mori's height in Japan, Syrup capitalized on the trend by producing a number of catalogues and clothing lines that catered towards natural fashion. Although their style was plainer and not strictly mori, the aesthetic of their clothing lines became wildly popular with mori folk, and many of their pieces became staples for the community.
One of the most famous pieces from Syrup is their deer cardigan; a brown cardigan with fawn spots. The cardigan became a wishlist item for many, and was often discussed on the livejournal and tumblr. I myself used to dream of buying this illusive cardigan before the brand faded from the mori consciousness.
- Featured Brand: Syrup
- Syrup Autumn/Winter 2009 Catalogue
- Syrup Winter 2009/2010 Catalogue
- Syrup Spring 2010 Catalogue
- Syrup Summer 2010 Catalogue
- Syrup Winter 2010 Catalogue
Another very popular brand that catered to mori style was SM2. To this day, SM2 is a thriving brand in Japan, although these days their style is much more catered to Natural Kei. I've even seen the store in some nearby malls. However, back in the early 2010s, the brand often directly catered their releases to mori fashion. Some of their photos were featured in magazines, as well as becoming wildly shared as outfit inspiration across the internet. It's likely you've seen some of these images before without realizing they were of SM2.
Their modern outfits, although less mori centric, are still very inspiring. I highly recommend checking them out, and maybe even purchasing from them if you like what you see.
Earth Music & Ecology
Although this brand never directly catered to mori kei, Earth music & Ecology deserves an honorable mention here. The brand has always focused on fairly natural themes, making it fit in well with the mori aesthetic. The brand is still active, although these days their style is much more casual and toned down.
The brand was often shared amongst the community as a place to buy some basic items for mori kei, and the name gained a lot of popularity amongst mori folk. They did produce some pretty easily mori-able pieces, and some nice inspirational images of the style do still exist, but in general, the brand has faded out of the mori scene entirely.
When mori started to grow in popularity, a number of online-focused brands began to pop up creating mori kei clothing. One of the most prominent of these is the brand cawaii. The brand is still active today, but no longer makes mori clothing at all. (And no, I do not know why it is spelled lowercase and with a "c" instead of a "k". Who knows.)
The brand cawaii mainly focused on the Wonder Rocket-esque style of mori kei, featuring over-the-top layers and a whole lot of lace. It was a very romantic and soft style, and the brand's pieces are still popular to purchase online. In fact, many aliexpress mori clothing pieces are dupes of old cawaii pieces.
Another popular online-focused brand is Favorite. This brand is extremely similar to cawaii, and also focused heavily on layered and lace-filled outfits. The brand is known for its model poses that usually involve someone sitting in a chair, and for its very romantic and over-the-top feel.
Like cawaii, Favorite is still active, but now sells mainly cosplay pieces and other mainstream J-fashion pieces. Also similar to cawaii, many aliexpress mori clothing pieces are dupes of old Favorite pieces.
The last brand to mention is actually not from Japan at all, but is instead a taobao brand from China, known as Dearli. Although the brand is not from Japan, it became wildly popular within the community, especially the international community, mainly for its iconic model and beautiful photoshoots. The brand's pieces were highly detailed and beautiful.
These days the brand is still active, still with the same model, but now focuses on mainstream girly J-fashion pieces. However, their images of mori fashion are still widely circulated on the internet.
Before we close, let's look at a few honorable mentions. One is the brand Blue Hat, which is often mentioned in outfit run-downs across the internet. However, although I have heard the name many times, I can't actually find any information on the brand itself or any reliable photos of their pieces. I assume they no longer exist as a brand, but I can't say anything for sure.
A Blue Hat piece found listed on Mercari
Another brand that is often mentioned is Franche Lippee. However, this brand is not actually mori focused and has always been more vintage. But many of the brand's pieces were often incorporated by mori folk into outfits. The brand was also featured in Mori Girl Papier, and included a tote bag from the brand with its release. One of their dresses also was widely circulated amongst the mori community. (You can see this link and this link to learn more about the brand's style.)
So that's all from me! Have you heard of any of these classic mori brands before? If not, I hope you could find some inspiration for your own style from these old favorites of the community. Also, let me know if there are any classic brands that I forgot to mention! Until next time, my deers!